The first question asked Perseus was, “by what injuries had he been compelled to enter into a war against the Roman people with such violent animosity, and to bring himself and his kingdom to the extremity of danger?”
While all expected [p. 2123]
his answer, fixing his eyes on the ground, he wept a long time in silence.
The consul, again addressing him, said, “If you had succeeded to the government in early youth, I should have wondered less at your not being sensible of the great importance of the friendship, or enmity, of the Roman people:
but that was not the case, as you bore a part in the war which your father waged with us, and, afterwards, must have remembered the peace which we observed towards him with the strictest sincerity. What then was your design in preferring war to peace, with those, whose power in war and whose good faith in peace, you had so fully experienced?”
Neither questions nor reproaches could draw an answer from him: on which the consul added, “Howsoever these things may have occurred, whether through the frailty of mankind, or accident, or necessity, be of good spirits. The clemency of the Roman people, displayed in the distress of numerous kings and nations, affords you not only hope, but almost perfect confidence of safety.”
This he said in the Greek language to Perseus; and then, turning to his own people, he said, in the Latin tongue, “You observe this striking instance of the instability of human affairs. To you, young men, principally, I address the observation. In the hour of prosperity, therefore, we ought to adopt against no man measures dictated by either pride or violence, nor confide implicitly in present advantages; since we know not what the evening may produce.
He is really a man, whose spirit neither prosperity can elate by success, nor adversity break by misfortune.” On the dismissal of the council, the charge of guarding the king is given to Quintus Aelius.
Perseus was invited to dine that day with the consul, and every other honour, which could be shown him under existing circumstances, was paid to him.